Temporary Agency Workers Directive – EU member states reach agreement on outstanding issues

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

UK flagOn 10 June, agreement was reached by the EU Employment and Social Affairs Council on the longstanding issues of the Temporary Agency Workers Directive. The proposals, which have been under discussion since 2002, will provide equality of treatment for temporary workers with workers engaged on full employment contracts.

The main points of agreement in the Temporary Agency Workers Directive:

  • equal treatment as of day one for temporary agency workers as well as regular workers in terms of pay, maternity leave and leave
  • possibility to derogate from this through collective agreements and through agreements between social partners at national level
  • temporary agency workers to be informed about permanent employment opportunities in the user enterprise
  • equal access to collective facilities (canteen, child care facilities, transport service)
  • Member States have to improve temporary agency workers access to training and child care facilities in periods BETWEEN their assignments so as to increase their employability
  • Member States have to ensure penalties for non-compliance by temporary agencies and enterprises.

Although the proposals provide for equal treatment from the first day of a temporary contract, the UK government announced in May that the CBI and the TUC had reached agreement on how fairer treatment for agency workers in the UK should be applied, while preserving flexibility agency work offers to both employers and workers. The EU proposals allow member states to delay the start of equal treatment with the agreement of “social partners at national level” and this has already been achieved. Agreement was reached between the CBI and the TUC on the following points:

  • After 12 weeks in a given job there will be an entitlement to equal treatment.
  • Equal treatment will be defined to mean at least the basic working and employment conditions that would apply to the workers concerned if they had been recruited directly by that undertaking to occupy the same job. It will not cover occupational social security schemes.
  • The Government will consult the social partners regarding the implementation of the Directive more generally, in particular:
    • mechanisms for resolving disputes regarding the definition of equal treatment and compliance with the new rules that avoid undue delays for workers and unnecessary administrative burdens for business;
    • appropriate arrangements to enable the two sides of industry and also public services to reach appropriate agreements on the treatment of agency workers, while respecting the overall protection of agency workers; and
    • appropriate anti-avoidance measures reflecting Art 9 (2), in particular relating to the treatment of repeat contracts for the same worker and the position of workers with permanent contracts of employment with agencies who continue to be paid between assignments; it is not intended that article 5 (2) will be used to evade the aims of the Directive.
  • The new arrangements will be reviewed at an appropriate point in the light of experience.

Further information:
Commission welcomes agreements on working time and temporary agency workers
Commission strongly welcomes today’s political agreement on Working Time and Working conditions for Temporary Agency Workers
Government agrees fair deal on Agency Work
View the previous news item for Agency Workers


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